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Name: In re Thomas R.
Case #: A112433
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/07/2006

Both parents appealed an order terminating their parental rights, contending that reversal was required because they were denied the opportunity to cross examine the social service agency witnesses (the adoptions specialist and the prospective adoptive parents) who testified that the minors were adoptable. The appellate court agreed and reversed and remanded for a new permanency planning hearing. A parent in a 366.26 hearing has a due process right to conduct examination and test the sufficiency of evidence offered by a social service agency on the issue of adoptability, and the error here was prejudicial. The initial adoption assessment concluded that the minors were not otherwise adoptable if this placement fell through. The prospective adoptive parents had initially declined adoption, but changed their mind. The addendum report gave no explanation for the change in their position. Under these circumstances, it cannot be concluded that denying the parents the opportunity to cross-examine the adoptive parents was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.